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HIV & 1st AId
Nov 18, 2004

Hi all, Three Qs in one here sorry, I work as a volunteer co-ordinator in developing countries and am responsible for the saftey and welfare of up to 15 young volunteers at a time. I am required to provide basic first aid for them in an emergency situation, but being HIV+ I do not know what I should do differently to avoid transmission? I know tranmission is extremely unlikely for basic CPR etc but we are often involved in dangerous situations where my 1st Aid skills are essential. What if I am injured, and they try to assist me?? Do these volunteers (for whom I have a duty of care) have a right to know my status?? (For legal reasons beyond me, my organistaion requires a HIV test from the volunteers, so it seems only fair). Lastly I have had trouble in the past entering Peru and Kenya not having had my yellow-fever vacc. I have a medical cert but it rarely helps, as I have been living in high-risk areas. There must be a way for me to get a safe YF vacc??? I'm undetectable, no treatment yet, T 380, 24yrs... my doc thinks it's too risky, but I think it's too risky not too??? Any thoughts are ENOURMOUSLY appreciated, Kind thanks, Lachlan

Response from Ms. Breuer

Dear Lachlan,

Wow! You DO have questions. Fortunately, we have suggestions.

As to the first aid: the answer for you and for those who might render first aid to you is the same: universal precautions. That means always use a barrier when blood is present, and treat all blood as if it is infectious--with not only HIV, but also with hepatitis. If you follow that rule, you will all be all right.

As to disclosure, you mention that they had to have HIV tests, but not whether you have access to their test results. I see your point about fairness, but unless their results have been given to you, you have no obligation to "level the playing field" by disclosing to them. They may need you in dangerous situations, they're young, and they may react unpredictably if you disclose.

As to the safe yellow fever vaccine, here you are out of our purview. We are not physicians, so we must ask you to pose that question to one of the medical experts on this site. You do need to be protected, so I hope they're able to give you a resource.

Thank you for what you are doing. You have courage.

My best, Nancy

Accupuncurist with HIV
Physician with HIV+ partner

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